As I write this, my little Kung Fu Panda is playing with the new Toby train he earned through his sticker reward chart. We've been awarding stickers for behaviors we want to encourage (using his potty, trying new foods, picking up his toys), and when he reaches 50, he gets a small reward. Lately, that's meant another member of the Thomas and Friends crew for his wooden railroad.
Today, he has built a rainbow path of bristle blocks, connected end to end and stretching the length of the coffee table. Toby bumps across the top, occasionally tipping off the sides until righted by KFP. It reminds me of a boy and his puppy, romping together across a flower-strewn field.
I've been thinking about puppies. Not because I want to get one but because my brother just got one: a Golden Retriever, his first-ever full-breed dog. She is blonde and sweetly beautiful, and I'm sad that I won't get to meet her until next summer. Already, she weighs as much as my niece, and my brother posted a Facebook photo of them together, labeled, "My girls."
Even though my dog, Una, died three years ago in October, I'm not ready to bring home a new dog. I've got enough to handle with a 3-year-old human! In fact, I'm playing around with the idea of contacting the local no-kill animal shelter through which we got our kitty, Luke, and asking them if they can use the dog bed and pen I'm still holding onto. I already gave away the better dog bed and portable dog pen to my sister, whose dog Emma is Una's sister and possibly her last remaining sibling (Murray, my mother's dog, passed away this year). Long ago, I also gave away her dishes and many of her toys. But the dog bed is getting in the way down in the basement, and it will only be mildewy by the time we want to use it again if we let it remain there.
I've been reflecting a lot lately on how things change. This is partly because I'm trying to promote my latest book, a Kindle-only book called "Dedicated Idiocy: A Personal History of the Penn State Monty Python Society." For a promotion held Black Friday through Cyber Monday, I wrote dozens of tweets by combing through the book for quotes and scenes to paraphrase. Revisiting those days yet again reminded me of how energetically I threw myself into creative endeavors, without a care in the world about whether it would lead to anything productive. I think I needed to be reminded of those lessons: follow your instincts and do what you love, and you will find an audience.
I did the same earlier in the month for my essays book, "The Art of Life," which is available as both a Kindle book and a print book. A compilation of columns and essays from about 13 years of my life, combing through this book took me on a nostalgic journey of the next stage of my life: postgraduate young adulthood. While the thoughts are often deeper and even philosophical, it's fun to see my voice developing. I now know why I've always loved Charlie Chaplin so much: like him, I find beauty and humor in all aspects of life and feel driven to express both deep thoughts and funny insights.
So now I'm working on my next project, "Now with Kung Fu Action Grip," a compilation of essays, writings and poems about my son, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda. These days represent a new direction in my life: looking outside of myself to focus on caring for another human (though I still believe that caring for first a dog and then a cat helped prepare me for parenting). Some of the best pieces for this collection came from LJ Idol, which hands down has been the most supportive writing community I've ever been a part of. I miss some of my LJI friends, but I understand that people's lives move on and that we're all a lot busier these days. I have myself to blame, as well, for the twin sins of failing to post much that is substantial and being terrible about commenting on other people's entries.
I will try to at least follow the unofficial posting schedule I'd set for myself more than a year ago but have been sadly slacking. My goal was to post something besides links to LJ at least twice a week, and I'm going to make an effort to do so. Journaling has always been a good way for me to capture ideas, to reflect on recent events, and to record the texture and detail of my life, details that otherwise would fade like a dream upon waking. (Plus, if I don't start journaling again, I won't have material for whatever my next nonfiction collection will be.)
In the meantime, take this as an open invitation to post links in the comments to any recent post you really want to share. I miss feeling connected!